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Track Changes

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Jul 17, 2018
How does systems thinking influence design thinking? How much of shipping new design is about coping with anxiety? What do designers and basketball players have in common?

From Abstract Theory to Capitalist Practice: This week, Paul Ford and Rich Ziade meet with designer Robyn Kanner to discuss her journey from a tiny art school to a UX designer at Amazon to the founder of MyTransHealth. We talk about the conversations designers should be having and the complex systems that inspire Robyn’s design practice. Robyn also reveals the surprising turn in her design journey that taught her how to throw a literal punch while Paul and Rich wrestle with the idea that, much like a basketball team, different designers do different things.

[podcast player]

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Paul — 2:15: “That is a very empowering moment when you go like, ‘I can make my own reality,’ and as you get better you start to look like a better and better musician regardless of how your music is.”

Paul — 5:30: “When you create something and there’s a lot of heat and light, and you’re making that new thing, your life is really tumultuous at that point. Then it goes out — it’s very emotionally tiring to go back to it.”

Robyn — 5:55: “I think my identity was a ‘bad thing’ for a while and then all of a sudden became a good and popular thing, and never really having the time to process that while trying to ship an actual experience — that was sort of the experience of it.”

Robyn — 6:25: “It’s not that they weren’t understanding [my identity], they just didn’t know how to have a conversation about it. They weren’t able to separate me from the work that I did and it was a deep UX problem to solve that kind of stuff […] It was a lot of patting me on the shoulder like, ‘good job, kid!’ and I was like, ‘if this was a shoe company you would think I was the freshest shit. It’s because it’s like a healthcare company you’re devaluing me right now.’”

Robyn — 7:35: “[Design thinking] is a methodology. I think designers think very highly of themselves for something that’s remarkably simple for the most part. I think design thinking is like, ‘great, you know how to work post-its, cool!’”

Robyn — 8:15: “When I think of systems, I think of things that already exist. I think music is one of the most perfect systems ever because everything has a time signature, everything has a rhythm and a melody. They all work together at the same time which is to me the most wild shit in the world… It’s all harmonious.”

Robyn — 11:00: “What’s interesting in-house is that you have to deal with politics. I think if you take the sprint at face-value it’s really cool. Once you introduce company politics it gets a lot hazier. I think when it comes to that approach you need a person in the room who can balance feelings.”

Robyn — 14:00: “Everything has a legacy, right. Every time I touched a product at Amazon, I knew I might be messing with code that’s at least seven years old.”

Robyn — 15:40: “[The goal of Amazon] is to try to naturally be in your life.”

Robyn — 16:05: “If you use time as the success metric, then you start having questions about where does this person need me, or where can I be more effective in their life?”

Robyn — 18:20: “If we think about the classic definition of design, it’s the solution to a problem within aesthetic constraints. For some unknown reason, people got it in their head that that meant type and color. For the life of me, I don’t fucking know why, because for me it means so many different things, and those different things are the conversations that really excite me.”

Robyn — 22:35: “Yes, I’ll get you the rectangle but we’re gonna talk about it first. That’s it. If we have a conversation about it first and we can figure out that the rectangle does X, Y and Z, then I’ll get you the rectangle.”

Robyn — 24:00: “If somebody is asking me for a rectangle and they’re more frustrated with the fact that I’m asking them a question about the rectangle, I don’t think I’m the problem in that situation. I think the problem is you can’t tell me why you need a rectangle.”

Paul — 24:35: “So your goal is to back people into systems that they can then use to do better work in the future.”

Robyn — 25:05: “A basketball team is made up of many people that do different things. There’s a center, there’s a point guard, there’s a small forward — they’re all basketball players. ‘Designer’ is just an umbrella word that includes a lot of different people.”

[A full transcript of this episode is available.]

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
Jul 10, 2018

The Game of Product Management: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade record a live podcast episode at our Ship It! meetup. We dive into the blockers that slow us down, the drivers that move us forward and we compete to see who can ship it. We also get a window into Paul’s keynote skills!


4:00— Paul: “[Product Management] is kind of the uber topic of our existence: How do we get these things shipped? We might know how to engineer, we might know how to design, but putting it all together and getting it out into the world is hard as hell.”

9:34 — Paul: “That looks like someone who can ship a process, we need someone who can ship a product.”

10:22 — Rich: “There’s nothing more effective than two or three people in Slack, beating the shit out of a problem. Meetings suck.”

11:25 — Rich: “This is about leadership stepping in and giving you advice because they just read a thing in Fortune.”

11:39 — Rich: “There is an art in responding to a leader and getting them to go away.”

15:18 — Rich: “Paranoia is very, very powerful.”

19:29 — Paul: “Even in success, you’re going to find failure.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
Jul 3, 2018

How did TIVO lead to Netflix? How does good software lead to empowerment? In this episode, we deconstruct the everyday impact of great software.

It’s pretty cool having control of the screen: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade meet with their friend Timothy Meaney, VP Product & Quality at Insight Catastrophe, to talk about what makes software great. Between the earliest spreadsheet programs, the hidden databases upholding Manhattan, and the ChromeBook interface that makes Paul’s kids cry, we learn how the best software is characterized by its simplicity.

[Podcast player]

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2:35 — Tim: “People also don’t think about software.”

6:10 — Tim: “There was something very powerful about computing, being from what you just described — me being alone in my room writing a game that I want to play myself — to talking to other people.”

6:50 — Tim: “The web, since [AOL Instant Messenger] has been about people.”

7:05 — Paul: “What’s interesting from the two of you is that the quality of greatness is accessibility. It’s not about inventing anything, it’s about making it accessible.”

8:00 — Paul: “Suddenly AIM replaced a whole category of communication. BASIC made it possible to program. MacPaint made it possible to draw.”

8:50 — Rich: “Photoshop has gone straight to hell! To hell with Creative Cloud! To tell with whatever is happening in Photoshop today. I don’t understand it.”

9:10 — Paul: “The magazine industry died, why do they make me relive it every day?”

10:05 — Rich: “Once it came to me — the mental model kicked in around layers in Photoshop — I lost my mind. I was like, oh my god, this is how everything is done.”

11:20 — Paul: “If you walk up and down the streets of Manhattan where we happen to be right now, billions and billions of dollars of decisions will be made this week based on Microsoft Excel and Microsoft PowerPoint. Those are the tools and the software that people will use to move entire markets.”

16:05 — Paul: “I just want to pull SQLite out and point at it because it’s a tiny piece of software and it stores data. That’s all. It’s a tiny database. It used to be that you’d go to Oracle and spend $30,000 to have this database. SQLite is on every Android phone, every iOS phone — it’s in just about every computer and every platform.”

21:20 — Paul: “TiVo was our first step on our cultural path to Netflix.”

25:40 — Tim: “The cycle is funny, right. It’s reached a point where it’s so transparent that we’ve ceded the control. A 10-year-old is not getting excited about gaining that control, they just have it.”

25:55 — Paul: “If you ever want to see a 6-year-old have a temper tantrum, just give them the interface to a ChromeBook.”

26:25 — Paul: “I thought the NYPD was gonna arrest me for downloading Chicago 17.”

26:50 — Paul: “God, I love a good shared file system between friends! I miss that in my life!”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Jun 26, 2018
 

Virtual vs. Physical Privacy: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade talk about privacy around your data and devices. We talk about search warrants, argue about the systemic problems of the prison system, and look into the ways that encrypted messaging is influencing our laws. We also get a preview into Rich’s life as a lawyer!

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2:38— Paul: “Anybody can sue you for anything, at any time. So you need to be buttoned up, but also plan for that.”

4:48 — Paul: “In the future, if you ever want to start a business, buddy up with a lawyer. That’s my advice.”

9:42 — Rich:There’s laws right up to the constitution that protect our privacy in terms of our homes; our information.

14:07 — Rich: “How do you feel about technology that exists, that doesn’t allow for that next step?” 

16:55— Paul: “I dont actually see a fundemental difference between a virtual entity (like a communication network) and a physical space (like this guy’s house).”

18:20— Paul: “It’s very hard to ban end-to-end encryption, if people want it”.

19:41 — Rich: “Privacy is sacred, and it should be respected, unless there is enough reason to infringe on it because a greater good is being threatened or harm is being inflicted in some way.”

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
Jun 19, 2018
 

We sit down with the host of Zig Zag to talk about decentralization, feminism, and how the blockchain might fix journalism

The creators of Zig Zag: Manoush Zomorodi and Jen Poyant

Capitalism, Journalism, and Women: This week Paul Ford and xarissa sit down with Manoush Zomorodi to talk about her new podcast, Zig Zag, and why she left a steady job at NYPR to create a media company on the blockchain. We chat about what it means to create a podcast on a technology no one really understands yet, the importance of owning your work, and how decentralized platforms are benefiting women. We also get to hear Paul’s manatee impression!


6:34 — Manoush: “It wasn’t necessarily about an incident or a guy, it was about the whole system.”

7:29 — Manoush: “If [Trump] can be President, I can have my own company.”

14:17 — Manoush: “ I don’t understand the blockchain, no one understands the blockchain, so what if we actually made something that explained the blockchain… it’s the perfect narrative vehicle to explore all the other problems that we have with the internet.”

13:30 — Manoush: “You’re going to put this thing on the blockchain… and you can’t take that away from us.”

19:07 — Paul: “It’s tricky. You’re in this priestly cast when you’r ein the media, and you’re not supposed to get your hands dirty. Then there comes a point where you’re like, ‘do I believe more in the ethos of this culture or is it worth it for me to participate even though I might get cast out of heaven’.”

22:08— Paul: “There’s a point where you go, ‘I can’t be broke and smart’.”

24:56— Xarissa: “[Women] historically have been really bad at creating things that we own.”

LINKS

 

Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Jun 12, 2018

How does the endless scroll of Netflix impact our desire for sneakers? How does the manufactured scarcity of shoes influence a billion-dollar secondary market? What is a sneaker bot?

The difference between iPhones and Sneakers: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down with product designer Matthew Famularo to talk about sneaker appreciation, manufactured scarcity, and the second-hand marketplace built around sneakers. We get acquainted with sneaker bots and discuss the ways that teens unknowingly carry out digital strategy for their favourite brands. We also listen to Rich’s admiration of Paul Newman’s good looks.

[podcast player]

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5:25 — Matthew: “Part of this multi-billion-dollar industry of sneakers winds up being sold because the supply is so incredibly limited and the demand is so high.”

7:25 — Matthew: “People will camp out for sneakers… It’s like Apple products, it’s like when the iPhone comes out.”

9:40 — Paul: “There was kind of a larger trend of athletes going from cool hometown celebrities to global mega superstars where everything is affiliated with them, like when Steph Curry came out with his sneaker and everybody made fun of it — I don’t follow basketball or sneakers, but that was big news.”

10:00 — Rich: “It’s fully baked at that point. You’re not wearing a sneaker to go play basketball in the schoolyard. You can, but it became fashion.”

16:18 — Matthew: “It’s a multi-billion-dollar industry, sneakers. It’s a marketplace. Because of this multi-billion-dollar industry and supply that doesn’t meet with demand, there’s now a billion-dollar secondary market that StockX is participating in, that eBay is participating in, that people are using platforms to sell sneakers.”

16:30 — Paul: “There’s a low cost of entry, it’s connected to street culture, there’s an element of hustle to it, and there’s a key thing you’ve just described which is that you’ve got this marketplace over here, you’ve got this waiting room here, you can automate this — or you could, theoretically.”

16:55 — Matthew: “There are a lot of different kinds of sneaker bots that you can get and it depends on the shoes that you’re looking for… Some bots do all of them. Some bots only do websites that use Shopify. Some bots only work on jailbroken iPhones because they work on the Nike SNKRS app. You have to understand what you’re looking for, and dependant on that, there are a number of options available.”

17:35 — Paul: “Everything you can do with the web has ended up in sneaker bot development territory.”

19:25 — Matthew: “We are now exposed to digital objects more than types of physical objects.”

20:05 — Matthew: “What you have today is between the digital objects [of music, TV, and film] is the notion of scarcity has exploded. Netflix will just pour content over your head until you drown in it so the perceived value is gone. I think that this is almost in a way a reaction to it, because you actually have this thing you can cherish in a weird way because not everyone has it. You know for a fact that because of the marketplace that there are just not a lot of them.”

20:50 — Paul: “That aspect, that sort of raw capitalist consumption part of street culture got really into the brains of cool rich young kids who are like, ‘Oh yeah, $1500 for a cool pair of sneakers, that’s no big deal. I’m a DJ and my parents are funding the next 30 years of my college education.’”

22:00 — Paul: “It’s not such a big market that serious, giant players are really deeply invested in it so it stays kind of ground level. Even the fact that there’s this whole sneaker culture and the bots and so on becomes part of the mystique. The marketplace is now connected to the big public branding event… They’re seeing this growing marketplace as feeding into their overall big brand efforts. Matthew at some level is pulling off the digital strategy around perceived value in the adidas and Yeezy brand for them.”

22:50 — Matthew: “One of the key points is that demographically you’ve got teenagers who fully understand that everything’s disposable. Everything. My Instagram, my Snapchat.”

27:35 — Paul: “Watches are very specific. Watches are rich people catnip.”

28:25 — Rich: “I just it’s cool that there’s this appreciation for this thing that there aren’t just endless amounts of.”

28:35 — Matthew: “There’s a separation between how widespread it can be. On social media, you can see photos of the shoe everywhere. But you go to… Ohio, and you’re not going to see that.”

29:30 — Paul: “When we’re having our kids play Pokemon Go, we’re training them to be sneaker drop consumers.”

31:10 — Paul: “As a species we find scarcity. I think it’s really exciting and I think it’s because we like having access to everything and then we get really excited about rich people having access to things we don’t and we’re like, ‘well why don’t I have it?’”

LINKS

Jun 5, 2018

Are you sick of productivity apps and social platforms that hijack your time? What happens when a platform encourages creativity rather than distracting us? How can you raise capital from users rather than ads?

by Chris Sherron

Less machine learning, less algorithms, less likes: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade meet with Charles Broskoski, founder of Are.na, to discuss how his platform moves away from the like-based models of Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. We talk about how pattern recognition drives our creativity, discuss the difficulty of building a community that people are willing to pay for, and complain about Pinterest. Rich also discovers what an Art Prof is!

[Soundcloud]

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2:35 — Charles: “The main thing that you’re doing [with Are.na] is making collections of resources… You can throw anything in there and the point is that you’re thinking of things you’re consuming over a long period of time. It’s about doing this research and thinking about it as you’re doing things.”

4:15 — Paul: “It’s the overall platform of Pinterest that’s okay, and the membership is very very excited, but it just breaks the web. You hit Google images and you go into Pinterest.”

4:40 — Paul: “Compared to Pinterest, Are.na users tend to have intent when they link things together. Pinterest, on the other hand, is watching people and making these connections for them.”

9:30 — Charles: “I think what was appealing about Del.icio.us is that it didn’t orbit around likes and hearts and whatnot. The thinking was that you use it for your own selfish needs and the sort of by-product of that was something really great for everybody else.”

9:45 — Rich: “There was more of a culture around thinking and deep thought, about being more inquisitive and curious and less about performing a personality online.”

11:00 — Rich: “This is success now on the Internet. Build the tool that lets you ‘heart’ pictures and sounds… It’s born out of Twitter and Facebook and the like.”

17:40 — Paul: “So you’ve got this very abstract set of things. This has actually been one of the challenges of hypertext and the web in general, it’s that most websites end up looking like something that was there before. Newspaper websites look like newspapers. Youtube is about video of a certain aspect ratio that looks like TV… The thing that you’re doing here, the thing that you’re describing — which I think both Rich and I have found really hard to get across to people — is that here are abstract nodes that connect to other abstract nodes about concepts and they can be remixed. I’ve seen a lot of experiments along this line and I think that this one is really interesting in that forty thousand people doing abstract hypertext stuff is really a lot.”

23:00 — Charles: “We’re doing an equity crowdfunding campaign right now, and that was a sort of scary proposition… The scary part with a community like ours is that they’re very critical, they know what’s going on, and they’re very sensitive to changes — but it’s going a lot better than we ever expected.”

23:45 — Paul: “The mental model of what success is has to be changed to accommodate the spaces like this that people really want and will pay for and will be a good business.”

24:10 — Charles: “I’m also very optimistic that people are getting smarter — and I know this is a minority opinion — but people’s ability to pattern recognize different things that are happening in the world, that ability gets strengthened over time and there’s nowhere to put that.”

24:50 — Charles: “We just might as well not do it if we’re gonna do ads. It sets up a weird dynamic because your customer is not the user, your customer is the advertiser. Your motivation then is to serve the advertiser and not the user. We’re just trying to make a good enough product that people will pay for it. The type of people we’re after are knowledge workers, people who are working in creative professions. This is the tool that helps your thinking on an every-day basis.”

26:50 — Charles: “[What stops people from standing up Are.na] is that it’s really hard to build a community. The community building is a fuzzy activity — it’s inviting people, it’s talking to people. It’s not the same kind of productivity that you’re doing when you’re writing code.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight

May 29, 2018

How many cake decorating videos does it take to disrupt the platform economy? Would forcing constraint on platforms generate better content? How do we reconcile unlimited access to an infinite library when we’re being pummeled by bad content?

Endless scrolling is the opium of the people: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade discuss how platforms like Spotify, Netflix, and Youtube have turned into an inescapable hellscape of unfocused content. We talk about being disappointed with the infinite media libraries of our dreams, and the potential for platforms to redeem themselves by constraining content, while looking at how smaller creators are already doing that. Paul also reveals his utopian dream of a centralized platform of curated cake-making content.

 


4:45 — Rich: “I go to the track, and I go View Album, because I’m wondering if I’ve stumbled on an artist that I want to really dive into… then I go to the album, and I want to like it so I’ll give the album a full listen. There’s so much shit. I get through the first [few] tracks of the album and then the waves break the glass in my house and flood, taking the table and me and the chair, and I go to the next thing.”

5:45 — Paul: “You know what I’ve noticed is the truly talented young artists just produce EP after EP, for years, and then they’re like ‘oh, I’m gonna do this album now.’ They don’t jump to the album. It’s a high risk game. 80% of it is gonna be trash unless you know what you’re doing.”

8:30 — Paul: “With the pure algorithmically defined entertainment that Netflix specializes in, there’s this thing called Dinotrux. It’s dinosaurs that are trucks because they know that little boys like trucks and dinosaurs — little girls too! Have you seen Dinotrux? It’s so bad.”

10:00 — Paul: “It must have been very exciting though at first where it’s like, ‘I’m doing a new thing, a Netflix standup special,’ and then a month goes by and it’s just not as cool for the comedians. Now you’re like, ‘I’m doing a Netflix special!’ and your housekeeper says, ‘so am I!”

12:30 — Paul: “We have a developer/designer here named Darrell and he made a playlist expiration tool. It’s called Dubolt. It’s quite good, you seed it with a few tracks and parameters and you get a very good playlist back.”

13:30 — Paul: “So we’re hitting a point in the glut where we’re realizing that emotionally and intellectually it’s not that satisfying to keep waiting and searching. You saw this when cable TV suddenly had five thousand stations and nobody could figure out what to watch.”

14:00 — Paul: “There’s always the great simplifying agent, which in our industry is often Apple, [saying], ‘you don’t want all those choices.’ Now the problem that Apple has — which is the problem everybody who creates a successful minimalist approach has — is that everybody starts adding stuff to it.”

15:00 — Paul: “We’re in the glut. There’s very little quality in a glut. There’s no sense of quality. Literally, it’s just this tsunami of content coming in and we’re all just like, ‘wow, that’s a lot of content!’ You thought it was what you wanted.”

15:25 — Paul: “We measure creativity by how people respond to constraints.”

16:50 — Rich: “When I see a Netflix Original Series, I just assume — and I could be surprised — I assume it’s bad.”

16:55 — Paul: “Compare Netflix and Youtube for a minute. What do both of them solve? They solve distribution. Suddenly they were like, ‘oh my god, we can put moving pictures in a rectangle on a screen and we can get it out to millions and millions of people.”

17:20 — Rich: “There’s a phenomenal quote by the Chief Content Officer of Netflix. They said, ‘what’s your strategy?’ and he said, ‘we have to become HBO faster than HBO can become us.’”

19:10 — Paul: “Here’s a thing I think a lot about: Cakes. Cake making is a whole scene on Youtube. There’s probably 30 million people… who watch and subscribe to cake content where people smear things with fondant. Very charming people. They sell spatulas. That’s how they monetize. I sort of look at Netflix as being very well set up to capitalize on these nascent expanding scenes in a way that Youtube can’t. You’ve got thirty, forty, fifty cake-making personalities but Youtube doesn’t really bring them together.”

20:50 — Paul: “It’s a promise that everyone is roughly equal on the platform, which is weird because you walk down the street and there’s a giant picture of a Youtube celebrity painted on the side of a wall in Manhattan.”

22:00 — Paul: “Netflix is weird because it’s all about subjects and I almost think it should be more focused around verticals. Like channels, or something on Netflix where you can go over and participate as opposed to these ‘movies for people who like cats and have no hair!’ I think Netflix is totally primed to do that.”

24:10 — Paul: “The whole system is set up where the platforms make it challenging to create real utility. The ways that you focus by making products that allow them to access the media and give them new powers and understanding — the platforms are not set up for that. They’re set up for continual delivery of a single experience which is usually a rectangle of video. They’re focused around the media, not the actual usage of the media to do things.”

24:50 — Paul: “Youtube is just a big open hole that anybody can throw their trash into, and sometimes people are like, ‘that’s not trash! That’s good!’”

26:00 — Rich: “For the consumer, I’m worried about them. The motivation on the creator side is to just pour more and more on my head. For the consumer, that’s led to a terrible state. Everything’s garbage. Most things are lousy.”

26:25 — Paul: “Even when you have a lot of money and you do everything right, the odds are that it’s gonna be pretty bad.”

28:35 — Rich: “You know what the most popular piece of advice is now? [Companies are] telling the person: Leave your phone outside the bedroom. Take a book with you. Pause and think! Think deeper!”

29:10 — Paul: “It’s always been crappy bestsellers and big stupid movies with car chases. That’s been the baseline for a long time. It’s not surprising that in an era of digital glut we just end up with more. Not better, but more… Do you try to build the new platforms where there are more constraints and more creative work? That’s a way to address this but you are climbing a very high mountain.”

32:20 — Paul: “Constraints matter, but platform economics take over. You have to choose how to live in this world, because it’s being done to you.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

May 22, 2018
 

Paul and Gina meet up with Christian Madsbjerg to discuss the ideas behind his new book, “Sensemaking: The Power of Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm”

What happens when you take a philosopher out of their element and plunk them into management? How can the business and tech worlds benefit from the humanities? Are we putting too much trust into algorithms and the promise of artificial intelligence?

Courtesy of ReD Associates

Just because Google does it, doesn’t mean we should do it too: This week Paul Ford and Gina Trapani meet with Christian Madsbjerg, author of Sensemaking: The Power of Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm. Christian ruminates on the limits of the algorithm, bringing human insight into tech and business where artificial intelligence falls short, and the impact of Elon Musk (ed. note: unfortunaltey this interview was recorded before the Met Gala)


4:00 — Christian: “Philosophers are for critique and against suggesting anything. But if you want to make something, you’ve got to suggest something.”

4:55 — Christian: “[Philosophers] see there’s still a way to have integrity in what you’re doing, and still deal with the kinds of things and the way they want to deal with them but in a different world.”

7:15 — Christian: “I suppose philosophy is just making manifestos — what’s sort of underneath us all the time, and that we didn’t think about. What’s happening, at least in the technology space right now, it’s this big reckoning. There’s this big sort of realization that there’s more to this than we thought there was. That’s what a philosopher would do, they would ask, ‘based on what do you say that? What are the underlying assumptions?’”

8:15 — Paul: “A vast number of our conversations… are ultimately about ethics. It’s a constant refrain through the organization. It’s daily and it’s top-to-bottom. Everything we do — maybe also because we deal with so many abstractions and so many requirements from the client — it’s more about preventing unethical situations.”

10:40 — Christian: “It’s often a group of people that aren’t like you and trying to understand what their life is like. ‘What is it like to be them?’ is the basic idea. You can enter their world and you can enter it in a way that can inform that world with whatever you’re making.

13:45 — Christian: “There are things we humans can do that we don’t understand yet. The fact that the machine can beat us in chess doesn’t mean that it can beat us in every other aspect of life, including understanding each other.”

16:20 — Paul: “No one is going to buy a car that sacrifices your life to save another life… We’re about to hit a wall. This is where capitalism and ethics are about to have a very exciting moment around self driving cars.”

16:45 — Christian: “Another way to think about driverless cars is [asking] are they really so attractive? Some people enjoy driving cars […]and that’s worth something as well. Another way of seeing it is that you can look at the people that get slaughtered in traffic every day, but does that really mean that all cars have to be driverless? Isn’t it a magical thing if you think about all the people that step into a car every day and they somehow find their way through these streets and they don’t crash?”

20:50 — Christian: “I wish [Elon Musk] would represent a more interesting dream for eighteen-year-olds than going to Mars.”

21:05 — Christian: “The first process is that in any public institution or any company there is a language that is often native to that place… The first thing is to translate that business language, or the language of the institution, into a human language. So how would human beings think about this? What would be the human phenomenon at the heart of this?”

24:15 — Paul: “So sensemaking as a practice is observing and understanding an organization well enough that you now have a foundation for organizational change, for defining what needs to happen now.”

25:55 — Christian: “The humanities are the place where you can try to exercise the muscle of [understanding] others in the most advanced way… The world of literature and art is a place where you can see human worlds in a way that’s advanced and interesting and often beautiful. So, often, the people that are good at [sensemaking] have a level of sensitivity to it.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight. 

May 15, 2018
 

What conversations can we have in email? When do we need to transition them into meetings? How can we make meetings more productive, and less of a waste of time? 

Like Startups, Most Meetings Fail: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade chat about the inefficiency of frequent meetings. We discuss what makes a meeting fail within the first few minutes, and provide strategies that can be deployed to make them successful (like defining a leader). We also complain about the neverending email thread, and the disconnect between our daily lives and the design of Google Calendar. Rich shares his best excuses (Ed note: lies) to get out of a meeting! 


3:45 — Paul: “There’s the Two Pizza Rule for Amazon where no team should be bigger than what you can feed with two pizzas.”

4:00 — Paul: “I think there are three good meetings. There is, ‘hi, let’s all get in the room as higher primates and get a sense of each other.’ You need to see and understand the people who are going to be working with you on something. There’s the kickoff. Then there’s the ‘we went away and did some work and we wanted to show you that work and get your discussion within about a half hour.’ Then there’s the standing process focus meeting in which you know what you’re going to do, it’s about a half hour long, and it’s just more efficient to […] find out what the tasks are and walk away.”

6:10 — Rich: “This is free for all our listeners. It’s the opposite of saying ‘this is a waste of time.’ Ready? Here’s the sentence: ‘You don’t really need me for this.’”

6:30 — Paul: “The calendar is this territory that belongs to you.”

10:35 — Paul: “Let’s be honest. Calendering software is terrible. The way that we’ve arranged the weeks so that they’re verticle stacks from top to bottom, that’s now how humans think about things.”

11:00 — Paul: “Time really works like a slithering snake. It goes from left to right.”

11:50 — Paul: “95% of meetings fail within the first six minutes.”

13:37 — Rich: You know what the worst invite is? The preface is this: ‘We all gotta get into a room.’ You get in a room and you realize the email thread was way more productive than us getting in a room.”

15:00 — Paul: “I’ll tell you what I like. Email or meetings? Neither. They’re both terrible.”

18:30 — Paul: “My brain works that way. Business brains don’t work that way. They talk and talk… My brain works in 8.5 by 11 inch paper, top to bottom. I can’t get that in business, and I accept that. I always feel a little bit like a space alien.”

20:40 — Rich: “If there isn’t a clear path to failure, then that meeting is useless.”

20:50 — Paul: “What favour are you doing anyone by hiding the fact that you’re secretly a compulsive lunatic who needs them to do things?”

21:00 — Rich: “The three legs of a stool are ‘what is the thing?’, ‘who’s responsible for the thing?’, and ‘when are you gonna get the thing?’”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
May 8, 2018

How can true information be used to rile communities? What is the difference between misinformation, disinformation and malinformation? How is deception tracked and quantified? Is the next generation more media literate?

Häagen-Dazs is from the Bronx; Umami is from LA: This week, Paul Ford sits down with Encyclopedia of Misinformation author Rex Sorgatz. We discuss his new book, the ways marketers, newsrooms, and scientists use deception to their advantage, and the diffusion of misinformation. We talk about our role as consumers and how we’re changing the media literacy movement to revolve around systems of thought, rather than presenting everything as opposition. Rex also shares a list of supermyths (Spoiler: Colombus knew the Earth was round before he set sail).

1:40 — Rex: “Misinformation is data that is incorrect, effectively. Disinformation is intentionally spreading that information… Malinformation, which is relatively new, is not actually incorrect information, it’s information that is correct but spread with the intent of abuse.”

6:30 — Rex: “[Conspiracy theories] moved out of pop culture and onto the internet. I think back then, it was a playful thing, but now in the age of Infowars, I don’t know what to call it anymore. It’s a completely different thing.”

11:00 — Rex: “I grew up in a small town before the internet and I still remember having access to information that didn’t seem right.”

15:34 — Paul: “So this is a practical guide to the nightmare mediascape in which we find ourself.”

16:40 — Rex: “I tell people it’s barely a book. My publisher said to stop saying that…”

25:30 — Rex: “Instead we should try to think about how other people are coming to the conclusions that they’re coming to — it’s not a matter of what, it’s a matter of how. I think there’s a lesson in there about media literacy for kids, that we work toward letting them understand systems of thought, not presenting everything as opposition.”

26:20 — Paul: “We consume so much media, so much, all day… People are willing to lightly hold and connect to all kinds of ideas as they suck media down their media holes in their brains. Part of the literacy is giving people the credit as discerning consumers who accept and reject the things that they’re hearing.”

28:30 — Rex: “Learning is systems more than it is facts.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

May 1, 2018
 

How have sales funnels changed in the past 20 years? What actually is a CRM or CMS? Are they merging together into a larger client management platform? This week, Paul and Rich sit down to discuss the new way of onboarding customers.

Systems Collide Into Each Other: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk about bringing the right clients into your company. We explain the three pillars that are working behind sucessful customer relationships: sales, customer service, and marketing. We define the differences between CRMs and CMSs, and discuss the convergence of the two. We also announce that we’ll mail a box of chocolates to anyone who comes up with a good name for this convergence!

 

1:30— Paul: “At some level, your funnel is everyone in the whole world. …”

2:20 — Paul: “Funnel is kind of a marketing term about getting from less qualified to more qualified. … about somebody signing on some dotted line and saying, ‘Yeah, I’m gonna do that’.”

3:53— Rich: “There was a day you’d have to stand out in the street with a sign. …That’s the old school, analog way of somehow taking the millions of little atoms that make up New York City and somehow filtering just a few into your shop.”

6:02 —  Rich: “There is software today that gets you way, way further ahead than standing outside of your shop with french fries.”

9:06 — Paul: “CRM is a big bucket term… but it’s basically how do I track people and how I’m doing at persuading them over time.”

18:07 — Paul: “Everybody’s a publisher on the web. Everybody.”

25:12 — Paul: “This platform is emerging where the people are in the funnel, the kind of content they see, the kind of opportunities that they have to integrate and connect to your thing… are all in one.”

28:33 — Rich: “It’s something big and beautiful. I would even say it’s broader than System A and System B colliding into each other.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
Apr 24, 2018

 

How can you build software on small budgets and short timelines, without making everyone’s life worse? How can clients get a bunch of vendors on the same page? Is it even worth trying?

A Bad Way to Build Software?: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade chat about the problems you’re going to face when you hire multiple companies to build a single piece of software. We discuss the communication, latency and separate agendas that hinder the process of software creation and give advice on how to make it work.

 

4:28 — Rich: “When I go to management … I need dollars, I need timelines, and I need what it is…what are you going to give them, when, and how much is it going to cost.”

15:32 — Rich: “There is nothing that will bring more friction, more latency, and more disagreement than human beings that view themselves as orbiting around separate entities but have to somehow come together to build a thing.”

15:50 — Rich: “The single biggest risk to designing and building stuff is the dependencies and the reliance and the agendas of different groups of people.”

17:21— Paul: “The overall software experience is a unified thing, and it comes from a unified team. So if you put those different vendors in the room, really what you’ve done is you’ve incurred a month or more of teaching them to communicate with each other, and they’re all going to have different processes that they use to get stuff done.”

20:51— Paul: “What you’re doing is creating a pathological work environment, even if these places have good work environments themselves.”

28:19— Paul: “If people would take this seriously, and think about it, they could save themselves so much… just so much emotional pain.”

28:58 — Paul: “It’s a big messy world out there… but vendor madness is very dangerous.”

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Apr 17, 2018

How did cyberpunks and activists affect the tech industry? Do we understand the history of the internet? How much of what we know comes only from a man’s perspective? This week, Claire L. Evans tells us about her new book, Broad Band, and the women who created the internet.

Photo by Jaclyn Campanaro

There Were Women In The Room: This week Paul Ford and Gina Trapani sit down with Claire L. Evans to chat about her new book, Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet. We discuss the impact of online communities, how weird the dot-com era was, and the stories of the women who made things work. We also get a window into YCHT’s future project — the Broad Band Musical!


2:29 — Claire: “[This book is] a corrective if you will, of all the books we’ve all read and love about Silicon Valley, and the garage-to-riches stories of entrepreneurship… These are the stories about the women who were in the room the whole time, and nobody asked about them.”

5:06 — Paul: “Women get forgotten from activist histories too, and it was kind of an activist scene in the early days.” 

5:22 — Gina: “Weird was welcome, in a way that is no longer the case.”

7:03 — Claire: “My big takeaway is how little we value long-term care and maintenance when it comes to building things… I profile Stacy Horn, who founded Echo BBS in the late 90s. It still exists. And she has devoted 25 years of her life to fostering and caring for this community. … She’s taking care of something, because she’s responsible for a community, and I think that’s really beautiful.”

8:24— Claire: “We mythologize the box, but it’s the users that change the world; it’s what you do with it. The culture work, the development of making things worth linking is almost as important as making the conventions for linking. 

8:24 — Gina: “It’s broadening the definition of what making the web was. It wasn’t just about standardizing protocols and running code, it was about building the places where people wanted to come and connect and share.” 

9:07— Paul: “Moderation…it’s critical, it’s key to these communities but it doesn’t get as much appreciation as ‘I wrote a page of code.’”

20:51 — Claire: “We’re all very siloed in the contemporary media landscape.”

A full transcript for this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Apr 10, 2018

What information is Facebook gathering? Do we really understand how our data is being used? Is it time for Silicon Valley to step up and address our concerns around privary? This week, Paul and Rich sit down to discuss the problems with Facebook (beyond its ugly interface) and the lack of governing body around our data security.

Mark Zuckerberg holding a cat (that is very much alive)

They Have One Product: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to chat about the hellscape that is Facebook. We chat about the lack of communication around what is happening with your data, discuss what Silicon Valley’s role is in protecting our privacy, and complain about how ugly the Facebook interface is. Rich also paints us a picture of Zuckerberg holding a dead cat!

 

2:01 —Paul: “They have one product, the product is the social network and your access to that social network. So privacy should actually be something they have worked out in my opinion.”

2:01 — Rich: “They’re doing stuff to me I don’t know about. That’s very different to me than privacy.”

9:37 — Rich: “And so what I just described to you is the human cookie, right?”

13:34 —Paul: “what we’re seeing here is that there’s no . . . centralized controlling authority for all this stuff, right? Like people think that there’s might be order or like a governing body . . . but it doesn’t work that way.”

17:34 —Paul: “What the hell is goin’ on in that interface though? As we make fun of it as a giant, monolithic privacy destroying pseudo-government… as a product it’s just an insane circus — it’s just this blue and white hellscape.”

21:57 — Paul: “I think people assume that consuming is a kind of making, right?”

26:03 — Rich: “Zuckerberg? He creeps me out. The way he holds his hands out… It’s like there’s an imaginary dead cat in his hands. I can’t — I can’t peg it, man. He freaks me out.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
Apr 3, 2018

How do you grow a company successfully? How do you build a company that values its culture over its profit margins? Can you successfully grow a company that started in NYC, in Lebanon? This week, Paul and Rich sit down to talk about the growth of Postlight and the amazing new team in Beirut!

The Postlight office in Beirut, Lebanon!

Growing in Two Places: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk about the growth of Postlight. We chat about how Rich’s Lebanese background informs the culture at Postlight, the misconceptions around outsourcing work, how to let your own team of engineers make hiring decisions, and the lessons we’ve learned from growing a company across an ocean. Paul and Rich also revel in the snacks they miss from Lebanon!


7:28 — Rich: “Being Lebanese is part of the way we do business.”

9:24 — Rich: “There’s no factory farm of humans that you lease out, to put some code out in Lebanon. They just don’t think that way.”

12:15 — Rich: “A team starts to form and they said, ‘we want to be part of you, we dont want you to just throw stuff across the ocean because you had a thing that needed to get done that wasn’t interesting. We want to join you’. And to hear that from the other side was really, really interesting.”

14:49 — Paul: “We got a clear signal back saying, ‘[outsourcing] wont work, just like it wont work anywhere. You need to have us be part of your culture, we need to connect, and then we’ll do work at the quality that you expect. And we want that for ourselves and you should want it from us.’”

15:07 — Paul: “What you don’t get is some easy, spreadsheet savings; but what you do get is increased capacity to do quality work, which is actually where our growth is as a company.”

16:48 — Rich: “We’re actually not driven by metrics. We’re driven by doing great work, finding great opportunities, doing great work again.”

24:05— Paul: “Theres a really good chance here that the good cultural things that helped us grow, are gonna happen in Beirut too.”

LINKS

 

Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
 
Mar 27, 2018

Is the blockchain more than bitcoin? Can the publishing space be taken out of the hands of banks and billionaires? Can local journalists band together to make the change? This week, Paul and Rich sit down with Maria Bustillos to discuss the future of the news on her new blockchain-powered publication, Popula.

Blockchain Fever: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down with Maria Bustillos to talk to about Popula— a blockchain based publication on news and culture. We chat about what it means to publish journalism on Civil: Self-Sustaining Journalism, honouring archives, the power behind direct and transparent news, and how Popula is working to address the problems that centralized banks have caused the world. Rich and Paul also try to write a song, titled Blockchain Fever! 

 

5:05 — Paul: “The internet exists because people took a piece of technology and an idea into their heart, and couldn’t leave it alone until it manifested…and I can see that happening with bitcoin.”

5:34 — Maria: “Blockchain technology isn’t the answer, but it’s the paper that you can write the answer on.”

7:55 — Maria: “Journalism has a lot of problems: in its funding model, in its deteriorating archives, in the vulnerability to billionaires who don’t like what we write. …And all these things can be addressed using blockchain technology.”

9:37 —  Maria: “Whenever we publish anything on Popula, a text version of it will be published to the Ethereum blockchain, and it cannot be altered. Ever.”

12:00 —  Maria: “It protects again Peter Thiel, it protects against linkrot, it protects against the degradation of search engines.” 

16:00 —  Paul: “So local journalists are banding together and they are going to publish using these blockchain technologies on Civil. So does this get rid of the quixotic billionaire who funds the news?”

24:54 — Maria: “We know it’s anti-bank, it’s anti-central bank, that it’s anti the dilution of currency. These are significant problems. They’re serious problems. There’s nothing bullshit about this. It’s not about instantaneous wealth, it’s not specifically anti-government either. It’s about addressing the problems that centralized banks have caused the world.”

25:28 — Rich: “So this is a statement. Can you build economies and startups on a statement?”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 

 

Mar 20, 2018

Can electrical engineers create tangible objects? Do we really need to be writing lines of code in a text-editor to be programming? Is it time for society to redefine what it means to compute? This week, Paul and Rich sit down with Bret Victor to discuss his journey from Electrical Engineer at Caltech, to UI Designer at Apple, to Creator of his ultimate vision, Dynamicland.

The building is a computer; the computer is a building: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down with Bret Victor to talk to about Dynamicland — a non-profit that’s inventing a new computational medium, where people work together with real objects in the real world (not alone with virtual objects on screens). We chat about the tech behind Dynamicland, the importance of creating intentional communities, and how a culture of secrecy at Apple inspired a life-long vision of community computing. Bret also shares a surefire way to impress a date — bring them to GuitarCenter and show them your analog modeling synth!


3:58 — Rich: “The bureaucracy got obliterated; all the machinery that usually slows you down was gone. The parents weren’t home!”

13:14 — Bret: “I came in the first day, went ot my desk and there was an iPad sitting on my desk. This was 2007. The iPhone just had been released. The iPad was not a thing at all… and I said ‘what is this?’ and my boss said ‘well we don’t know, Steve wants a tablet’.”

16:03 — Bret: “I was starting to see that my values and Apple’s values were a bit at odds. Apple ultimately wants to enable people to listen to their music, and read their email, and watch videos, and have an entertaining digital experience. I wanted to enable people to understand things more deeply or create amazing things that they couldn’t create before.”

22:08 — Bret: “It’s hard to have the level of motivation to pull off something really huge like that, if you don’t have the right support structures in place.”

22:08 — Bret: “We want to create a medium that works for all people. So growing our community, we’ve been pretty deliberate about reaching out to people who aren’t on Twitter and who aren’t traditionally advantaged by technology.”

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Mar 13, 2018

Has the entry-level to the internet become too high? Has the purpose of the web shifted from a software platform to an information delivery tool? Have we lost site of what the internet really is? This week, Paul and Rich sit down to discuss the levels of abstraction we’ve created to make the web easier, and the problems it has created.

The website as we know it is gone: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk to about the expansion and simultaneous shrinking of the web. We talk about creating abstractions to make the web more accessible (like Google Docs) and the ways that has also limited our ability to understand what the web is. Paul takes over Can I Tell You, and Rich provides words of comfort — no one gives a shit about your life!

 

4:11 — Paul: “on one hand you have someone saying the web is about giving people access to publishing, giving people the ability to publish and communicate outward … and on the other hand someone is saying, you’re asking us to move backwards in time”

5:55 — Rich: “The story arc of the web to where we are today… isn’t even the web. It’s just this wild network of protocols that have been appropriated by a few companies.”

7:33 — Rich: “It’s over. The notion of having to do the heavy-lifting is gone. Everything is shrinkwrapped.”

8:26 — Paul: “A designer does better if they actually understand the stack underneath”

11:06 — Rich: “There is a generational thing… that they view the web as a software platform and not an information delivery platform.”

12:09 — Rich: “I think the term ‘website’ and what it represents, is gone.”

13:28 — Rich: “the infrastructure of the world, the things people use day to day, the way that people access information… the web is still actually flawless and unmatched for accessing that information.”

14:54 — Paul: “you’re always playing catch-up and then there’s all this new stuff… it’s hard to get it done.”

15:58 — Rich: “The web originally had the organizational characteristics of a library — this notion of stuff in rows and columns. Google abstracted away any notion or implication of organization… the notion of a page, the webpage, was obligerated.”

19:53— Rich: “Technology should give you abstractions that give you more power.” 

22:05 — Rich: “We’re getting dumber, it’s getting smarter. It got smarter because we got smarter.”

Mar 6, 2018

Are your photos scattered across multiple platforms? Can you access them anymore? Are you locked into platforms you barely enjoy? On this week’s episode, Paul and Rich sit down to discuss the impossibility of getting all your files in one place.

Photo by Martin 

We’re locked in: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk to about a major problem with giant platforms — getting locked into them. We talk about having our documents scattered across multiple platforms, the impossibility of possessing your photos, and becoming trapped by a giant platform without realizing it. Rich also pitches an app that’s based on the hugs he didnt get from his father!

 

4:11 —Rich: “I want all my shit in one place… and it turns out, it’s hard.”

5:55— Paul: “Apple didn’t do anything particularly nefarious. We entered into a relationship without thinking about how that relationship was going to end. Which we all do; as humans, we’re optimistic creatures. So you get into Apple and you think it’s going to work forever … and then you’re caught, you’re locked in.” 

6:30 — Paul: “The more lock-in [technology companies get], the better they’re doing. The more their stock prices go up, the more people like and respect them.”

11:23— Paul: “It strikes me as sort of hilarious because everyone in Silicon Valley is like ‘disrupt, disrupt, disrupt’, but there is nine levels of middle men here, all owned by one or two companies. And you can’t wedge in there.” 

18:54 — Paul: “These big platform companies love to lock you in. It’s absolutely in their best intrest.”

22:37 — Rich: “Google’s doing it right. Lock-in is scary. Own your shit.”

LINKS

Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 

 

Feb 27, 2018

Is bitcoin still operating in a vaccuum? How do we trace it back to market value? What does startup technology and bitcoin have in common? Paul and Rich talk to Aaron Lammer about smoking weed, the similarities between startups and bitcoin, and the future of the blockchain as a post-national project. 

Photo by Anna Rose

It’s healthier to see it as gambling: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down with Aaron Lammer to talk about his new podcast Coin Talk. We discuss the stability of bitcoin, the value of human satisfaction, and the similarities between bitcoin investors and startup founders (spoiler alert: it’s that you have to be a bit insane). Rich also grills Aaron on his shift from marijuana enthusiast to financial advisor!

 

4:00 — Aaron: “[bitcoin] combines a lot of stuff that I’m really interested in. It has elements of startup technology media world, but it also has some game theory, and some like . . . just like gambling-y stuff. And I also think that people who are like, say, investing their own time and resources in startup technology are doing a form of gambling.”

4:41 —Paul: “It’s healthier to see it as gambling; if you see startups as a business, you’re an idiot.”

8:17 — Aaron: “There are a lot of currencies in the world that are less stable than Bitcoin.”

8:53 — Aaron: “I believe really strongly in like experiencing these things…like you don’t want to get lectured about Twitter by someone who’s not on Twitter. You really have to like experience technology to get it.”

14:36 — Rich: “I think today [bitcoin] is nonsense. Eventually there has to be a dotted line to actual value, whether it be services or resources. Bitcoin is in a vacuum, as I see it today, and eventually somebody is going to want to trace that line. It leads to nothing today. 

17:45— Aaron: “It could potentially be a post-national project, in the same way that many opensource software projects are post-national. The blockchain is really just the lowest layer. Once you take that idea of an immutable server that everyone can access without anyone controlling it, whether the project succeeds or fails is whatever people can build on top of that. And the first thing that they’ve built on top of it that’s truly been viral is money.”

26:16— Aaron: “Is your religion art or is your religion technology? And where will it be in a hundred years? Will it be with a technological religion or an art religion?”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

 
Feb 20, 2018

Do you need a security camera for your front-door? Do you need programmable lighting? Are smart homes really innovative? Paul and Rich talk about the pros and cons of connected homes, the security of our information, and the impossibility of competing with giant platforms like Google and Amazon.

Smart Homes, Foolish People: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk about connected homes. We talk discuss the pros and cons of distributed networks, the fear of sharing data with giant platform companies, and ask if smart-tech is eating away at our creativity. Paul also predicts that one of Zuckerberg’s 2018 goals will clam-digging!


5:15 — Rich: “All of this stuff is so you have to do less. I used to love that sense of achievement when I had a 486 computer and when I finally got it to print in colour, because I bought a colour printer that took 20 minutes to print a colour page and it only worked right because I got the latest drivers that were crashing before, but finally it was working right. That felt so good. We’re eating away at the skills needed to do some incredibly complex things.”

7:57 — Paul: “This is the fundamental flaw of everything though right? Which is that your home is increasingly becoming a set of distributed network processes and the way the cable companies and the routers are set up it’s very difficult to gain access to those from outside of your home”

11:44 — Paul: “What’s happening is you’re seeing the same thing that always happens, which is that enormous consolidated players are starting to get their platforms together. They’ll get into a partnership. Like Amazon, I’m sure, is talking to Netgear right now.

13:30 — Paul:“The big platforms, because of their ability to form relationships with other big platforms, always tend to win.”

14:17— Paul: “In ten, 15 years from now this will be built in like HVAC.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Feb 13, 2018

Are we living in a post-file world? Has our cultural understanding of “notes” changed? Paul and Rich talk to Chris O’Neill about innovation, acquiring talent,and the importance of focusing your team. 

The Ups and Downs of Focusing: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk to Chris O’Neill, CEO of Evernote to discuss the company’s shift in focus. We talk about acquiring talent as an established company, digital hoarding and how to compete with a pen and paper. Paul also compares NYC to a hatchet, and California to a widdled stick!

 

 

4:30 — Chris: “[We] came from a place of wanting to be innovative and I think we spread ourselves fairly thin as a company. So part of the first step for me, was to spend time with our users and spend time with the founder of the company and really reflect on what is our purpose in the world? And how do we rally solely around that?”

7:09 — Paul: “You’re not the new hotness, you’re ten years old, you’re Evernote, everyone’s heard about you, they’re 23 years old so they’ve known you to exist since they were 13. How do you convince talent to come work for you?”

13:18 —Chris: “WordPerfect and Microsoft Office were only like 30 years ago, 40 years ago. And all the metaphors were physical things: desktop, file, folders, and there’s a very good reason for that: Microsoft needed to have a metaphor that people understood. Now the problem is we’re stuck in that metaphor. You use Google Docs. Like a Doc is an eight and a half by 11. That little picture I scribble on the pad of paper, a whiteboard, an audio note, a business card — is that a file? I don’t know. I don’t think so. We’re in a post-file world.”

17:36— Chris: “People are going to find things that work, whether that’s pen and paper or Evernote, or whatever, people are gonna find what works for them. So why don’t you actually empower and enable them? That’s a mega trend I think you’ll see in the workplace . . . things are going to be user chosen but then companies will enable them.”

16:45— Rich: “Let’s talk about Information bankruptcy. I have a friend. I once took a look at her computer for a moment and she had about 77 tabs open. They didn’t look like tabs anymore…It is digital hoarding to some extent. It is that feeling that if I just put it away somewhere then I put it in my brain.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS

Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Feb 6, 2018
 

What does Chief Compliance Officer really mean? What do you actually do? Paul and Rich sit down to talk about job titles, ruining our LinkedIn profiles, and the value of clarity.

What does Grandpa do?: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down to talk about terribly unclear LinkedIn profiles. We chat about the evolution of titles like Evangelist or Entrepreneur In Residence, and how to capture someone’s attention in three seconds. Rich complains about contracts and Paul makes a compelling defense for white chocolate.


0:38 — Rich: “There’s the ceremonial title which is ‘Co-founder’, which speaks nothing to skill or vocation.”

2:11— Paul: “Boss [as a title] is a great. You never see that on a business card.”

7:05— Paul: “The X at Y is a really good formulation if you’re trying to break through and let people know what you’re about. ‘Self-employed’ is tricky. It should be Self-employed Something at first. You know? Self-employed Writer, Self-employed Designer.”

9:47 — Rich: “I think this is a good piece of advice, generally: LinkedIn flies under people’s noses… You’re always on a list with about 200 other people… so if somebody’s giving you the three seconds, you gotta really nail your headline.”

23:55 —Rich: “ If you keep going back to Clause 6A1, you will destroy the relationship. You will destroy it. The thing exists in the first place for mutual benefit. I get money from you, you stay in my apartment, right? If I go back to Clause 6A1, because you didn’t take the garbage out and put it in the front, therefore I’m gonna ask you for an extra 50 dollars, right? Cuz it’s in the contract. You just destroyed actually something far more durable than the actual contract.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

Jan 30, 2018

How can a side-project become a multimillion dollar venture? How has San Quentin become a technology incubator? How can we work to curb America’s prison problem? Paul and Rich talk to Chris Redlitz about Venture Capital and his newest nonprofit, The Last Mile.

Invest in the Pivot: This week Paul Ford and Rich Ziade sit down with VC, Chris Redlitz to talk about his newest venture, The Last Mile (TLM). What started as a mission to instill hope in prisoners has become a technology incubator and coding school. We talk about access to information, the stigma around hiring criminals, and the tangible steps we can take to curb mass incarceration and reduce the recidivism rate in America. Rich also reveals his subconscious love of tight polyester pants!


3:52 —Chris: “We’ve seen some of the best companies come out of pivots or side projects.”

9:34 — Chris: “Kenyatta Leal who was in our first [round of the program], he’s on our board of directors, he was serving a life sentence when I met him as a result of the three strikes reform. He was released, now he’s on his four year anniversary and he works for a technology company here in San Francisco. Someone like that has just become a beacon of hope for those inside.”

11:56 — Chris: “The first thing that we recognized was that many of [the students] just lacked hope. They lived in a box and they thought in a box…And so our first premise was to instill hope and confidence, so that they could dream big.”

12:58 — Chris: “It’s come a long way from this idea of just instilling hope. Now we are teaching practical skills and we have guys getting out, getting hired as software engineers. We just had three guys hired within the last month in the Valley as Javascript coders.”

A full transcript of this episode is available.

LINKS


Track Changes is the weekly technology and culture podcast from Postlight, hosted by Paul Ford and Rich Ziade. Production, show notes and transcripts by EDITAUDIO. Podcast logo and design by Will Denton of Postlight.

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